Address to Congress on Debt Relief, November 4, 1999
Bishop John Glynn
Auxilary Bishop for Military Services
Committee on International Policy
US Catholic Conference
November 4, 1999
Good morning. I am Bishop John Glynn, Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop for Military Services and a member of the U.S. Catholic Conference Committee on International Policy. It is my pleasure to welcome you here this morning.
This is a very important time. We are just two months away from the Jubilee Year 2000, which will usher in a new millennium. According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Jubilee was a time to start over, to right old wrongs, to reestablish justice and equity. As we consider how this tradition can be applied in our time, there is no more pressing issue of justice and equity than debt.
For many years, the U.S. Catholic bishops have emphasized that the burden of debt is crushing the lives and dignity of the world's most vulnerable people. Too many families are going without basic health care, too many children are going without education because their governments must spend limited resources on debt service. This is not just a social or economic problem, it is a moral challenge -- one that has been championed by Pope John Paul II and other religious leaders here in this country and around the world, by missionaries, peace and justice groups, humanitarian relief organizations, and many others.
Over the next few days, our nation will have the opportunity to play a leadership role in relieving the suffering of the world's most impoverished people by appropriating funds to reduce the debt burdens of poor countries. This is what brings us together this morning -- across religious lines, across political lines, from different walks of life -- to demonstrate the depth of our concern about this issue and to express our sense of urgency to Members of Congress.
I am very encouraged that the issue has gained such strong support from Members of Congress that the House Banking Committee passed new debt relief legislation yesterday. This is a major victory for the many organizations and individuals who have worked so hard for many years to make this happen.
But now the challenge is for Congress to appropriate the funds requested by the Administration to make this legislation real. Even as the House Banking Committee passed its bill yesterday, other Members of Congress were cutting even more from the $33 million appropriations agreed upon earlier this year. There will be no relief for the world's most impoverished people if the Administration's request for $1 billion is not approved.